"What's In a Name?"

By Ted Brassard

 With the naming methods generally used today my surname should be Pilote
rather than Brassard.  Due to the French use of "dit" names, when I trace my 
male line of ascent up my family tree, I end up with Leonard Pilote, the first 
of that name in Canada instead of Antoine Brassard who was also the first of 
that name in Canada.
 The use of aliases or "dit" names was and still is common in many cultures. 
Even today in the United States you can find many people using hyphenated 
names or aliases. Some with three or four which may include their mother's 
surname, their grandmother, and even their great grandmother.  This is 
particularly true in areas where records are poorly kept and the family does 
not want to lose track of their family lines.
 In my family tree the change occurred within five generations from the first 
settlers with the two surnames of Brassard and Pilote. Leonard Pilote had 
married Denise Gauthier in 1644 and Antoine Brassard married Francoise Mery 
in 1637. On the 21st day in October of 1710 at Quebec City, Jean Pilote, a 
grandson of Leonard and Denise, was married to Marie Catherine Brassard, a 
granddaughter of Antoine Brassard.
 I think there must have been something special about Catherine, although I'll 
never know what it was, but I've heard it said that all of her sons began using 
the surname Pilote dit Brassard in honor of their mother. The following generation 
used the names in reverse, that is, Brassard dit Pilote and from then on the 
families always used the surname as it is today--Brassard.
 So, as Shakespeare said: "What is in a name? A rose by any other name is still a 
rose." As for me, having carried the Brassard name for so long I identify with it 
more readily than I do with Pilote, yet I am proud to be carrying the genes of both
these well-known first Canadian settlers from France.

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Developed Feb 27, 1998